Habitat: Oaks are a prominent tree in many ecosystems planetround– especially temperate zones. In North America, Oak trees tend to like a full day of sunlight, which is why they often grow in open spaces such as hilltops & depend upon animals such as squirrels & humans (traditionally throughout temperate zones) to help spread their seeds.
Above: A lone Oak basks in the the midday sun of the Sequoia National Forest in the Southern Sierra Mountain Range. Oaks like a lot of sunlight & are a draught-tolerant, abundant source for a variety of resources.
Above: All Oak leaves have this “classic Oak leaf shape”
Acorns- the nut that fed all our pre-agricultural ancestors for thousands of years. With the introduction of agriculture, our ancestors began feeding these to pigs. Many nature-lovers, vegetarians & Native Americans today still love acorns as our primary food source. They contain all the essential amino acids by themselves, & are a perfectly abundant, drought-tolerant food source.
Oak trees are perhaps one fo the most unused, industrially-viable, readily-available sustainable source of resources on the planet. According to a modern Miwok recipe for acorn soup, “it is essential that you add a generous amount of California laurel” when storing acorns to dry, to keep insects away from the acorns.
All acorns (Oak nuts) are edible, but most must species (all but White Oaks of the Eastern U.S.) must have the bitter tannic acid removed before they are palatable. There are several ways to remove the tannins, & it is simplest & most energy efficient to do so while in the wilderness using traditional techniques.
According to the book It Will Live Forever, by Julia Parker, there is something that was done for thousands of years to ensure a simplified & more productive acorn harvest. Acorns drop their initial load of acorns that have been infected by insects (acorns with holes in them) about a month before they drop their primo supply of the stuff we love. After this initial “dump”, the leaves & affected acorns are raked into small piles to be control burned. This would help:
restore nutrients back into the soil
remove the “bad” acorns from the harvest
prevent out-of-control wildfires
One method is to crush the acorns, put them in some kind of container that water can flow through (shirt, basket, etc.), & put them into a river or well-moving stream. This will leech out the tannic acid within 3-5 days, but be sure to knead the bag each day so that the water continues to flow through & the acorn mush doesn’t clump together. Next, roast the meal on an open fire or dry them in the sun for 24 hours or until dry. Then, grind them with a clean, flat stone or in a metate to make flour.
A 2nd method is to smash the acorns & boil them in water 8-10 (see ‘rock boiling‘ & ‘3-rock method’ below, as these cooking technique make this practical & ecologically beneficial unlike conventional cooking methods) times or until the water runs clear (boiling the acorns turns the water brown with tannic acid & other topically-healthful chemicals, which can be drained, cooled, & thrown onto your friends or dumped over your own body each time—see medicinal uses below). After processing, taste the acorns. If not too bitter, they’re ready to be dried & ground into flour.
Acorn Flour; an “first food” of all temperate-zone people. Acorn flour contains all 9 essential amino acids―making is a “complete protein”. Acorn flour contains half the daily value (DV) of protein per serving. Acorns provide calcium, potassium, & many other minerals & nutrients according to this chart by NutritionData.com.
There are 4 types of saturated fats, & acorns contain the healthy type― called “lauric acid”― the same type that is found in coconuts! Lauric acid is an 8-chain molecule unlike stearic acid (a 14-chain molecule saturated fat) that is found in the meat of animal flesh, which causesartery plague. Lauric acid is considered a healthy type of saturated fat, & should not be confused with “bad fats”. Note: “Artery plague” can be removed by eating a slice of garlic each day (in case your cholesterol is high!